Saturday, July 19, 2003

I'D RESPECT YOU LIKE CRAZY! One thread that links a lot of books I read are those books which seek to explain how the popular culture we have today came to be -- books as varied as Live From New York, the Tom Shales/James Andrew Miller oral history of "Saturday Night Live", and Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azerrad's memorable series of vivid profiles of American underground bands of the 1980s, the Husker Dus, Minutemen and Black Flags of the indie world that created the universe from which Nirvana broke through in 1991.

To that list now add Gerald Nachman's Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, which proved to be an excellent way to spend any number of beach days.

Nachman wants to explain how American comedy changed in the 1950s, from the world of brash, polished joke tellers to a world where comedians focused on material that was much more personal, more relevant to American lives. Stereotypical mother-in-law jokes faded away, increasingly replaced by irreverent satire, political humor, biting cynicism and a more intellectual approach to comedy. As Joan Rivers once observed, "Audiences nowadays want to know their comedian. Can you please tell me one thing about Bob Hope? If you only listened to his material, would you know the man? His comedy is another America, an America that is not coming back."

The book proceeds as a series of profiles, loosely arranged in chronological order, starting with Mort Sahl, Nachman's focal point, a comedian largely unknown to my generation. Sahl brought a biting cynicism with a strong anti-establishment political bent into the rooms of stand-up, just picking up the day's newspaper before an audience and riffing off the headlines with a jazz-like sensibility. It was a different kind of humor than had been seen before -- less formal, but more daring -- and it worked.

Some of Nachman's subjects are ones that many of us are pretty familiar with, and the chapters on well-known pioneers like Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce and Bill Cosby seemed more obligatory than revelatory. Others are way too short, like those on tv pioneer Ernie Kovacs and largely-forgotten black comedian Godfrey Cambridge, one of the first comics to confront racial issues head on ("It's so nice to go overseas and be hated solely because you're an American.")

And then there's the really good stuff. The chapter on Mike Nichols and Elaine May just plain shines. I knew that they were funny, and that they mattered, but I never quite understood how innovative their sketch comedy scenes really were, relying on joking references and character types -- the way the stories were told, and not the lines themselves. They began The Age Of Irony, influencing everyone who makes us laugh today.

Meanwhile, chapters on Steve Allen, Bob Newhart and Jonathan Winters -- harmless fuddy-duddies to us today -- reveal how much they shined back in the day. David Letterman wouldn't have existed without Steve Allen, and it's good to be reminded of that. It's also worthwhile to learn about long-forgotten humorists like Shelley Berman, whose sit-down cataloging of neuroses ("I never have the slightest doubt about my safety in a plane until I walk into an airport terminal and realize that there is a thriving industry in this building selling life insurance policies") was the obvious precursor for the Woody Allens and Richard Lewises who followed.

One figure deserving of his own chapter in the book, but largely absent, is Johnny Carson -- not so much for his own humor (the key was the delivery, not the substance), but the influence of his Tonight Show in selecting those comedians who immediately gained national recognition through his show. Yes, he comes up a fair amount in the discussions of Jonathan Winters, Bill Cosby and (obviously) Joan Rivers, but a focused discussion of the importance of his show and its choices would have been welcome.

Frequently the book is a catalogue of bitterness -- Sahl angry at the audiences that started ignoring him when he obsessed over the Kennedy assasination, numerous comics accusing each other of stealing material -- and, for me, that's always fun to read about. And where else will you read about Bill Cosby punching out Tommy Smothers? Or Bob Newhart's routine in which a handler tries to persuade President Lincoln not to revise the Gettysburg Address ("What else, Abe? 'People will little note nor long remember'? . . . . Abe, what could possibly be wrong with that? . . . . Abe, of course, they'll remember it. It's the old humble bit. You can't say, 'It's a great speech, I think everyone's gonna remember it.' You come off as a braggart, don't you see that? Abe, do the speech the way Charlie wrote it, would you?")?

How about an acidic Elaine May telling fellow Compass player Shelley Berman, "The next time you fuck me up onstage, I'll pull down your zipper and pull out your dick"? Or the fact that Joan Rivers' former stage name was "Pepper January"? And so on.

It's a well-researched book and a fun read. Even after you grasp Nachman's thesis and the book starts to feel repetitive, there are gems throughout to keep you reading. Woody Allen's description of his stand-up craft, writing up to 20,000 jokes a year while starting out, is full of insight. You really come to respect Phyllis Diller, of all people, and anytime you can read twenty-seven pages on the still-living, still-funny, one-time-friend-of-Stephen-Sondheim-in-summer-camp Tom Lehrer, I think you've got to go ahead and do it.

Recommended reading.
I NEVER SAID NOTHING: Remember that whole indie-hating "Liz Phair eagerly embraces the mainstream" stuff? Well, that was before the record died on the charts.

Now she needs her base back, and in a Hollywood Reporter interview she's singing a different tune:
"I'm in a win-win situation," Phair says. "If this record goes, I can do things on my own. But if this record doesn't go, then Capitol will drop me because of the amount of money they've spent on it, and I can go to an indie."

. . . .

Phair didn't always win her arguments with the Matrix. The song "Favorite," for instance, features a chorus in which Phair repeatedly compares her lover to an undergarment.

"That chorus makes me choke a little," she says. "The Matrix fought really hard, and they won. The verses, however, are totally me. I guess it's just like you're a painter, and someone says you're going to do a public works project. It's not like you can't be creative within those restrictions."

Liz Phair: the Diego Rivera of rock and roll.
SO NOW YOU KNOW: Reader Louis Wainwright emails to ask:
I originally started reading you based on some American Idol commentary. I then gave Amazing Race a chance based partially on your enthusiasm for the show. And since then...nothing! I don't recall a single post this season. What, are you not watching it at all? Or are the lack of any strong storylines keeping you from finding the motivation to write about it? If so, let me help. My wife and I are enjoying the show and clearly see why people of taste respect it. However, the lack of clear heroes and villains is making it difficult to figure out who to root for and against. So since I feel you have some responsibility for getting us hooked on the show, I think you owe it to us to tell us who to cheer on.

Fair enough, and he's right: I haven't written about TAR4 since around the first episode.

I think two things are going on here, in terms of why I haven't written about the show. First off, I don't think this season has been as good as the previous three -- the contestants aren't as interesting, and the challenges aren't as . . . challenging. I mean, even the clowns are boring! Millie and Chuck aren't nearly as much fun as similar chipper-eyed Blake and Paige, and confrontational gays Chip and Reichen aren't nearly as evil as Team Guido, TaraWil or Teri and Ian. Nobody provides the constant levity that Danny and Oswald, Ken and Gerard or Team FratBoy (again: unfunny clowns? How?) I don't know if it's bad casting, bad editing or bad luck. (Anyway, the anonymous straight guys are going to win. Again. They haven't had anything close to a narrative arc yet, suggesting their developments will be very late in the game.)

And, sadly, none of the road blocks and detours have been truly tricky -- no "find the westernmost point in continental Europe", no frustrating mining for opals in Australia or golfing on an unmarked course, nothing as complicated as the blowtorch/chisel snowglobes from season two in Alaska. Not a whole lot of really strenuous physical stuff, and too much artificial bunching. Nor has there been anything as evilly (is that a word?) fun as the elimination of the two Harvard Law students for not taking a cab when they needed to. Instead, each episode has been about not-screwing-up, as opposed to showing teams using smarts to successfully get ahead.

Second problem is just logistics. Jen and I have been on vacation for the past few weeks, away from our cable modem and limited to a dialup connection, and I haven't really been able to read the TWoP recaps or boards where I'd otherwise go for inspiration on this stuff. Next week, however, is make-up time.

Who to root for? Root for the entertaining teams to stay in the race, to keep the show interesting -- and that's bickering fiancees Kelly and Jon, and, just because they provoke everyone else, 12-years-virginal-and-counting Millie and Chuck. As for rooting for a winner, the team I've wanted to see win has never won, so the best I will hope for is a challenging, riveting finale as good as the last three.

Am I still watching? Yes. Is it as good as the previous seasons? No. But it's still destination television, and I encourage you to watch. (And post your thoughts on this season in the Comments below.)

Friday, July 18, 2003

IT'S LIKE WATCHING AN ASS PUT ON A BLUE SUIT -- THERE'S STILL AN ASS UNDERNEATH: The "From Justin To Kelly" of its time, Roberto Benigni's "Pinocchio" is coming out on DVD this week.

In case you forget what people thought of it at the time, scan this site's archives here, here, here and, also, here, where even Brett Favre disses the film. Click and see reviews like:
Yes, Mommy, I know why "Pinocchio's" nose is growing. But why is he going bald? The beloved Roberto Benigni pushes his fortuna too far with a live-action adaptation likely to disperse his American following as quickly as "Life is Beautiful" recruited it. It's not pretty to see a grown man cry, and whimper and whine and simper, even if he's playing a madcap puppet idiotically described by everyone as resembling a little boy. And especially not a sallow, balding, desiccated fellow inching into late-middle age. . . . Maybe there's an unreported Italian tradition of employing long-in-the-tooth comedians as Pinocchio, akin to casting small, dynamic women as Peter Pan. If there is no such tradition, this movie won't start one.

As an idea, Benigni's puppet is certainly the most insanely ill-conceived movie conceit in years. It's not a puppet! Do you hear what I'm saying, Mr. Oscar Winner? Are you understanding this? It's not a puppet. It's an adult male in jammies. Who could look at this and not think, ewww, creepy. What's with that guy? If you saw him in the theater, uh, wouldn't you get a little nervous? He's a 911 call to Vice waiting to happen.

Benigni grotesquely overestimates his charm as a movie illusionist. He certainly has nothing of the great Charlie Chaplin's weightless grace, he has none of Douglas Fairbanks's acrobatic wit, he's not even as compelling a physical presence as Val Kilmer in "Batman." He just looks stupid. I can't say this enough: This movie is about an adult male dressed in pink jammies.
DID THEY SEE THE SAME MOVIE? Just saw this during lunch: the Boston Globe's Wesley Morris, on "Bad Boys II":
This action-figure syndrome had me wondering how I'd react were I, say, a Miami cop on a freeway with cars hurtling toward me at 200 miles an hour. Rather than going blank and dutiful like Carrie-Anne Moss, I'd like to think I'd be a lot more like Martin Lawrence in ''Bad Boys II'': a teary, neurotic mess.

Lawrence spends every testosterone-drenched set piece of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay's action opera wincing and shrieking like a Chihuahua on a roller coaster. Realism is the last thing you'd expect to find in this much-anticipated, desperately needed sequel to Bay's 1995 hit, but Lawrence is a Discovery Channel special on being terrified. . . . .

Lawrence, for his part, does the movie's heavy emotional lifting. Since his notorious nervous breakdown a few summers ago, his obscene, cartoonish assaults have turned into a searing, comic vulnerability. He's now a drama queen of Diana Ross's depth and Susan Hayward's breadth. And ''Bad Boys II'' is his ''I Want to Live!'' He screams. He weeps. He mistakenly swallows Ecstasy. It's the performance of the season. And in that pill-popping instant, the picture becomes his ''Lady Sings the Blues.''

FROM THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU "BULL DURHAM" AND "ALF": You know how, everyone once in a while, Roger Ebert will get up on the high horse and write all indignantly? Today's review of "Bad Boys II" is one of those days:
What happens next is kind of sickening. The Hummer speeds down a hillside entirely covered by the tarpaper shanties of poor people. Walls and roofs, doors and windows, dogs and chickens, corrugated iron and curtains, all fly into the air as the Hummer cuts a swath through this settlement. And I'm thinking, people live there. There's a quick mention that drug production takes place on the hillside, but still: Dozens of poor shantytown dwellers must have been killed, not that the movie notices.

There was once a time when a hero would sacrifice his own life rather than injure innocent bystanders. No longer. The heroes of "Bad Boys II" are egotistical monsters, concerned only with their power, their one-liners, their weapons, their cars, their desires. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that characters who wipe out a village can also make cruel jokes at the expense of a kid on his first date. Everybody involved in this project needs to do some community service.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

SHE'S IN THE ATTIC! Unintentionally bad moments in live theater, via John Helipern. Like:
Still, there’s nothing an audience can do to help a performer in real trouble. Years ago, I saw a revival of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, and the telephone was supposed to ring during the poker game, but it didn’t. Actors can only improvise so much. Essentially, they kept playing the poker game, ad-libbing as best they could: "What a lousy hand!" "Another drink?" "Maybe I will have one after all." But the phone still didn’t ring. One of the actors could stand it no longer. "Aren’t you going to answer the phone?" he said to Victor Spinetti, who looked as if he could kill him. Well, Mr. Spinetti couldn’t reply, "No, it hasn’t rung yet." So he picked up the receiver. But to make it all horribly worse, the moment he began talking into the phone, it rang.

I GUESS ALL THAT GRATUITOUS TWITCHING PAID OFF: Among the Emmy nominations announced today was one for Don Cheadle for his where's-my-paycheck work on 'ER' as Parkinson's-afflicted Dr. Paul Nathan.

Other nominations of note:

18. Costumes for a Variety or Music Program: "Cher - The Farewell Tour," NBC; "MADtv: No. 809," Fox; "The First Annual Miss Dog Beauty Pageant," Fox; "Saturday Night Live: Host: Robert De Niro," NBC.
For the people, or for the dogs?

23. Directing for Nonfiction Programming: "American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till," PBS; "American Idol: Finale," Fox; "Da Ali G Show: Episode 3," HBO; "James Cameron's Expedition: Bismarck," Discovery Channel; "Journeys With George," HBO; "Unchained Memories: Readings From the Slave Narratives," HBO.
If only for the freaky backlighting for Clay's middle performance, I guess. Certainly not for the pacing. Or the singing.

41. Music and Lyrics: "The Concert for World Children's Day," Song Title: "Aren't They All Our Children," ABC; "The Fairly OddParents: Love Struck," Song Title: "What Girls Love," Nickelodeon; "The Fairly OddParents: Love Struck," Song Title: "It's Great to Be a Guy," Nickelodeon; "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie," Song Title: "Everyone Matters," NBC; "The Simpsons: Dude, Where's My Ranch," Song Title: "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders," Fox.
And I quote:

Springfield's caught with Homer's joyous loathing!
Filling clubs, with angry valentinos.
You don't have to move your feet,
just hate Flanders to the disco beat.
He's your perky, peppy, nightmare neighborino!

48. Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Jennifer Garner, "Alias," ABC; Marg Helgenberger, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS; Frances Conroy, "Six Feet Under," HBO; Edie Falco, "The Sopranos," HBO; Allison Janney, "The West Wing," NBC.
That anyone was nominated other than Falco is an insult to her greatness this season.

86. Writing for a Comedy Series: "The Bernie Mac Show: Goodbye Dolly," Fox; "Everybody Loves Raymond: Counseling," CBS; "Everybody Loves Raymond: Baggage," CBS; "Lucky: Pilot," FX; "Sex and the City: I Love a Charade," HBO.
Apparently, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (10 nominations, including Best Comedy Series) isn't well-written, I guess.
JUST call her "Esther." Pals of Madonna's tell us that the Kabbalah-lovin' singer has instructed her close pals to use her "Jewish" name "Esther" when addressing her. "She is really into it," one friend said. Madonna is so devoted to the sect that she even built a Kaballah center in London earlier this year. A rep for the singer laughed: "Oh, God! No, that's not true." We wonder what her hubby Guy Richie's Kaballah alter-ego is.

Meanwhile, this is nuts: Jen's outside doing a cover shoot for a magazine coming out this fall, and they asked me if I could hold a fan up towards her head to blow her hair out a little while they were shooting her picture. After about 30 seconds, however, the photographer deemed me unqualified for such demanding work. Go figure.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

STRIKE THAT. REVERSE IT: Director Tim Burton is reportedly deciding between Christopher Walken and Michael Keaton as the star in his upcoming remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

First thought: no, no, a thousand times, no. Let it be.

Secondly: if you're going to do it, how about Bill Murray? He's got the melancholy, the wise-cracking humor and just the right sensibility for the part. Or, maybe, Johnny Depp? He can do the comic rhythms and the creepiness just right. Or think outside the box and go with Bernie Mac, who can play up the angry side well. Let Walken play Grandpa Joe, but he's got no business ordering the Oompa Loompas around.

Your thoughts?
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU: Is Bravo's new makeover series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy "simply fabulous", as Samantha Bonar of the LA Times claims, or is the WaPo's house curmudgeon Tom Shales correct when he calls the show "patronizing" and potentially harmful for playing up the same stereotypes used to deride gays just a decade or two ago?

Well, it depends. If you think gays have been totally accepted in America and that playing into stereotypes is safe and fine and good and entertaining now, well, then you'll think the show's a hoot. But if you're not in the 54% of America that believes homosexuality to be an acceptable alternative lifestyle, then, well, this show isn't going to help things. It's just Meschach Taylor's swishy decorator "Hollywood Montrose" from 1987's Mannequin, only five times so.

So thank goodness this show is only playing on Bravo, a station nobody watches except for Inside the Actor's Studio and Larry Sanders reruns, and not on one of the networks where its effects could be more pernicious. Because while this kind of stereotyping and in-joking might be okay within the community, or in major US cities where respect and tolerance for gays is a given, I'm not quite sure that the heartland is ready for this. There's just too many parts of America in which the Fab Five wouldn't be welcome.

Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe America's more progressive than the polls would suggest. Maybe it's okay for Americans to think that all gays are like Just Jack on Will and Grace or the Fab Five, innately gifted with fashion sense and a flair for bitchy comments, because maybe they recognize these as stereotypes and not reality.

But maybe not.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

'I' BEFORE 'E', EXCEPT AFTER 'C', BUT EITHER WAY, YOU USE THEM BOTH: Presidential candidate Bob Graham was known as the "education governor" as Florida's chief executive, but when asked if the President told a lie in making the Iraq/Niger/uranium comments in his State of the Union . . .
"I would not use the three-letter word," the Florida senator told reporters. "I would use the five-letter word: deceit. That he deceived the American people by allowing into a State of the Union speech at a critical point when he was making the case for war with Iraq, a statement that he either knew was wrong or should have known was wrong."

Full article. For what it's worth, "oops" is only four letters long.
THERE IS A WAIT SO LONG: Are the Pixies getting back together? "We might," says UMass dropout Charles Michael Kitteridge Thompson IV, otherwise known as lead singer Black Francis.

Via No Rock & Roll Fun.
SHORT-FINGERED VULGARIAN WATCH: Trump-bashing never goes out of style.

Monday, July 14, 2003

ME TIMBERS -- SHIVERED: There is much to commend in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which Jen and I saw today given the drab conditions covering the Cape.

The use of authentic pirate gibberish like "Davy Jones' locker", "aarrr!" and "bonnie lass" were all appreciated, plus the obligatory pirate movie cliches of plank walking, thieving monkeys, talking parrots and, of course, bad teeth. Keira Knightley channels Kate Winslet well. The supporting cast is solid, especially the bumbling oafs on both the evil pirate crew and in the British navy.

But towering over all assets was the transcendantly weird, over-the-top, magnificent lead performance of Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. Wow. Everything about the performance is brilliant -- the showy mannerisms; the deadpan comic timing and delivery; the dreadlocks and eyeliner; and, most notably, Depp's conscious channelling of Keith Richards throughout the whole thing. Not only is Depp acting more flamboyantly than anyone around him, but the other characters all respond to his weirdness in kind.

(To explain: it's not like Grease, say, in which Stockard Channing's portrayal of Rizzo happens to be a three-dimensional performance in a one-dimensional movie, without any of the other characters acknowledging. Instead, everyone around Sparrow reacts to him like he's Prince or something, and not just another pirate.)

There's a rhythm and a goofiness to Depp's performance that's just remarkable to behold, and he doesn't break character once. The performance has total integrity to it, and god bless Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer for letting him run with it.

Why isn't Depp a bigger star? See Pamie's recent Fame Audit of him, which notes:
Johnny Depp has found a way to keep his films and his acting choices almost completely removed from how the public views him as a person. He doesn't play the distraught, quick-tempered, skinny-minny-loving, chain-smoking, mumbling weirdo in his films. He is at his finest when playing a tortured, beautiful freak. And we love him most in the dark, when we're alone, staring at his gigantic, captivating face on a movie screen. So much so that we tend to turn our heads in public, excusing his behavior or simply ignoring it, waiting for him to get back up there where we want him

It's interesting that Nicolas Cage got Depp his first part, because it's Nicolas Cage's career that Johnny Depp's should most resemble: small cult films that earn him respect that lead to small cult comedies that garner more respect which lead to Oscar-winning drunk portrayals followed by a series of crappy big-budget films that give him enough money to take bigger risks that lead to Adaptation. Johnny's got a similar sense of humor. He's a freak for love, just like Nic. He knows the power of a good cigarette. What's keeping Johnny from reaching this level of fame. Is it self-sabotage?

See the movie.
SKATES: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a rather nice piece about former baseball player Lonnie Smith over the weekend, covering his playing days, his cocaine addiction, and, relevant for this week, a mascot attack:
The biggest knock against Smith was a weak throwing arm and a tendency to stumble on the run, especially on artificial turf at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. Teammate Larry Bowa once referred to Smith as "Skates," saying he looked like he was playing the outfield on ice skates. The nickname stuck. Smith laughed and accepted it "because it was true."

It wasn't as funny when Smith came back to Philadelphia as a Cardinal in June of 1983, strung out on cocaine. So he asked David Raymond, the Phillie Phanatic mascot, to stop making fun of him during pre-game introductions. When he saw Raymond stumbling and falling one night, he took off running. He blind-sided Raymond, leveling him in the back of the knees, and nearly broke his leg.

"I heard the sound of pain," Smith says. "I didn't care. I said 'I told you to stop doing it,' and I ran off laughing. They had to carry him off on a stretcher. . . . It was one of the stupidest things I ever did in my life. That whole year my frame of mind was backwards and stupid."

Keep reading.

Via Clutch Hits.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

READY TO FEEL OLD? Live Aid was eighteen years ago today. Eighteen years since Madonna said "I'm ain't taking shit off today" (in the wake of the Penthouse photos), eighteen years since Bob Dylan was completely stoned during the US finale, eighteen years since we thought it was really cool for Phil Collins to play two concerts in two continents in one day (while US stars Michael Jackson, Prince and Bruce Springsteen played none), eighteen years since Billy Ocean was followed by a reunited-with-Ozzy Black Sabbath, eighteen years since Hall and Oates played with the Temptations' David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks before serving as Mick Jagger's backup band for his striptease performance with Tina Turner, and eighteen years since Queen and U2 blew my mind with their performance of "Radio Ga Ga" and "Bad", respectively.

But the most memorable moment of the day, as British folksinger John Wesley Harding reminds us, was probably its most notable failure:
The music was fucking brilliant
And that Madonna she sure can move
By the time Paul McCartney's microphone [shouts away from the microphone] had failed
Yeah, we are all well into the Live Aid groove

Paul McCartney, he sang . . . [strums 'Let It Be' on guitar, mouthing the words to the song]
Which must have been a bit of an irony
Because if you 'Let it Be' nothing will ever improve

Want to know why Springsteen wasn't there? Blame Julianne Phillips.
WHICH, I GUESS, MAKES RICK FOX HIS RICHARD PERLE: This weblog, which has always admired the braggadocio of Shaquille O'Neal, the self-proclaimed "black, basketball-playing Nietzsche" (for analysis, see this post), bows in tribute to Shaq-Fu's latest comparison, following the Payton-Malone acquisitions:
"Last year I had a couple tanks, a couple grenades," O'Neal said in a telephone interview. "Now I got atomic weapons. I'm going nuclear. I'm Colin Powell, and I can drop the bomb any time I want to."

I'm not going to do the full chart, though you're welcome to contribute in the Comments section. All I know is that only one of the two men speaks Yiddish, and that Sec. Powell has never uttered the sentence, "My game is like the pythagorean theorem: There is no answer."